Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

A not so boring life

imageWe’ve been living and working in Nepal for almost six months now. I made a throw away sarcastic comment about how easy and boring my life is. It’s obviously not, but I couldn’t help reflecting on how our lives have changed.
I am working shorter hours, probably, and have also cut my commute to one minute by foot, compared to forty five minutes by car. The cases I deal with are half emergency, which is a much higher proportion than before.  Our emergency cases consist of mostly laparotomies for severe sepsis and Caesars and necrotising fasciitis.  Our elective cases are gynaecological, hydatid cyst surgery and renal stone surgery, as well as ubiquitous hernias and cholecystectomies. We see almost no cancers. And because our emergency cases are so sick, we see a lot of death.
Luke’s life is completely different as well. He has been running his online business, which is just like home. But he has also taken on a role in renovating and upgrading hospital facilities – bathroom and kitchen renovations, safety equipment (smoke alarms, motion detecting lighting and fire extinguishers) and Internet infrastructure. He works long hours, longer than I do, riding around the town on his motorbike and overseeing tradespeople.
Our three children also have started to become third country kids – not living as Australians, not living as Nepali. They attend school from 8:30am until 1pm every weekday and have the afternoon off, when a Nepali nanny supervises them in our home and around the compound. The school only has seven children in it and they are of different nationalities – American and German, and all arechristian. Which means I not only get more theological questions, but I have to tolerate some diversification of their English.  They are happy to negotiate with shopkeepers and range over our huge compound, treating it as their backyard. And I constantly struggle to get them to put their shoes back on.
Changes are more than token, though. We are now in Kathmandu on the way to a Malaysian holiday. We went out to dinner at a middle eastern restaurant and they all found food they were happy to eat on the menu before taking a motorcycle taxi home. We travelled 10 hours in a jeep to get here and they sailed through the experience, not batting an eyelid at roadside cafes and Asian-style toilets, jumping into a waterfall pool to freshen up at one point. They even ask about how the water is filtered before drinking anything out of a jug. They rarely shower, but prefer to bathe in a bucket of cold water to save water. When I sit and contemplate how much difference six months has made, I can hardly get my head around it.
Before we came to Nepal, we knew to expect major changes. We are all a little stressed out to be dealing with different culture and different food all the time. Our main form of escapism is to make anzacs, or Australian style thin-crust pizza on a weekend. We won’t escape to Australia for a while yet, but we are all ecstatic to all Nepal our home right now. It’s obvious that this experience is the most significant experience we have ever had as a family, and will probably have implications for all of us for more than just a few months.
Goodbye Nepal for a few days. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

(c) 2022 C.Cuthbertson. All Rights Reserved. All views expressed on this website are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of any other persons or organisations, such as employers, affiliations, publishers or colleagues.